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"Power in Politics" to open at History Center ahead of the RNC


With the Republican National Convention coming to Cleveland next month, the Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society is launching its Power and Politics on July 14, just in time for Clevelanders to understand the region’s role in politics over the years.

The exhibit will feature everything from historic campaign buttons to the fashions worn to inaugural balls over the years – all with an eye on capitalizing on the RNC’s presence in Cleveland.
 
“We knew the convention was going to mean a significant increase in visibility for the city,” says Angie Lowrie, Cleveland History Center director. "Rather than going through the challenging process of getting downtown, we thought we’d make a nationally significant collection available to everyone.”
 
The exhibit will display a selection of political campaign buttons that date all the way back to the first presidential campaign to present day. “It is the largest collection of political campaign buttons in the nation,” says Lowrie.
 
Also included in the collection is a 1936 republican presidential candidate Alf Landon, who lost his campaign to incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt.
 
The exhibit will also focus on local themes such as statesman John Hay’s time as private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Ohio senator Marcus Hanna’s role as William McKinley’s political manager and classmate of John D. Rockefeller.
 
“We’re looking at it nationally and on a local scale,” says Lowrie of the exhibit. “Our collection goes back to the beginning of the first election.”
 
The Chisholm Halle Costume Wing of the center will house the Political Fashion Statements exhibit, showcasing different fashions throughout history, from a dress made from the James A. Garfield parade bunting fabric to a World War II propaganda to one printed with defense stamps and yet another that abolitionist Elizabeth Blake of Medina wore to President Lincoln’s inauguration in 1861.
 
Six videos aim to support the oft-repeated mantra, “the road to the White House runs through Ohio,” by explaining the birth of the GOP, how the party figured so prominently in the abolitionist movement, women’s vote, and the birth of the modern campaign. “Learn how the Party of Lincoln led the nation out of the Civil War era to a time of prosperity,” says Lowrie of one of the videos.
 
The exhibit kicks off with the Historical Society’s History on Tap: Cocktails and Campaigns event on Thursday, July 14, at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door, or $5 for Western Reserve Historical Society members and students.  
 
Power and Politics will run through January 2017. The center’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for children ages 3-12; children age 2 and under are admitted for free.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 18 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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